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Sunflower Bean: Forest Hills Stadium 2019

Sunflower Bean (photo by Gus Philippas for WFUV)

Sunflower Bean (photo by Gus Philippas for WFUV)

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On August 17, a sultry summer Saturday night in New York, WFUV was proud to be able to bring listeners a live broadcast of Beck, Spoon, Cage the Elephant and Sunflower Bean from Forest Hills Stadium and the WFUV Clubhouse.

It's always daunting to be the opening act, especially for three headlining bands, but New York's Sunflower Bean proved again that they are one of this city's most exciting young groups. It was special to see the trio shine on this evening, opening for a pretty formidable lineup. Hopefully, it was another step towards Sunflower Bean building the wider audience they deserve.

All three musicians are so talented, hardworking, and humble — just last year they played a show at Rockwood Music Hall for FUV Live. On this night, they took command of the stage at Forest Hills Stadium in a late afternoon set that was short but inspired, drawing from their two albums, 2016's Human Ceremony and 2018's Twentytwo In Blue, as well as their most recent EP, King of the Dudes.

They were all dressed to kill too. Singer and bassist Julia Cumming strutted her stuff in a rocking leather outfit that would make Joan Jett proud. Guitarist Nick Kivlen looked like he just stepped out of Woodstock — it being the 50th anniversary of that storied festival this weekend — with his white flowing robe and ripped jeans. The two traded vocals and faced off on their instruments while drummer Jacob Faber, battling the heat in a tank top and shades, brought the beats. Sunflower Bean also had a touring keyboardist, Danny Ayala (The Lemon Twigs), who filled out their sound with style and panache.

It was a high-powered six-song set that held the crowd rapt: they even clapped in unison when cued by Cumming during the song "I Was Home." Human Ceremony's "Easier Said" was transformed into a sing-along. Throughout Sunflower Bean's set, the crowd jumped up and down as if they were at a Rage Against the Machine concert in 1993, as Cumming observed herself during their closing track, "Come For Me."

Sunflower Bean clearly had many longtime, dedicated followers in the audience, but they most certainly made some new fans too. Following the band's set, my co-host Eric Holland and I had a lot of visitors making their way to the WFUV Clubhouse, raving about Sunflower Bean. Our one regret was that the set wasn't twice as long!

Setlist:

  • King of the Dudes
  • Twentytwo
  • Easier Said
  • I Was a Fool
  • I Was Home
  • Come For Me

[Recorded: 8/17/19]